Category Archives: Old books

MRS BEETON’S BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

Mrs. Beeton 001

As noted before, I really enjoy old cookbooks. The information they contain tell us so much about life in earlier times. Not only do they tell us what people ate and how their food was prepared, they contain information about medicine, sanitary concerns and other things. For some time, I have wanted a copy of that stalwart of the Victorian home, MRS BEETON’S BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT. Finally, a facsimile of the original volume published in 1861 surfaced. Not only does it contain the original material, including illustrations, the print matter is enlarged so it is easier for me to read. (I am increasingly appreciative of larger print.) It is a rather bulky volume, but a delight to read none the less.

One of the things I particularly like is Mrs. Beeton’s list of foods in their seasons. She divided them into categories (Fish, Meat, Poultry, Game, Vegetables and Fruit), then discussed what is available each month, including commentary on possible quality. For example, in February, she listed several fish that were still available for purchase in February but were not as good as they were in January, as well as other fish that were not subject to that concern. While other books have similar information, Mrs. Beeton’s seems to be more detailed. This kind of information can bring a story to life in many ways, ranging from a dialogue between characters about what to buy to a detail about a character’s favorite dish. If nothing else, it gives an author confidence about the accuracy of the details in the story.

The illustrations are black and white drawings, and the use of the illustrations is interesting as well. Mrs. Beeton included drawings of the ingredients before cooking (herbs, chickens, trees, etc.) as well as pictures of the final dishes.
For example, in the section of recipes for chicken, she included pictures and details regarding different varieties of chicken. See below:
Mrs Beeton-Black Spanish chicken 001
I’m sure this was intended as a help to the ladies of the house, but it’s very interesting to the modern reader as well.

This is a useful and fascinating addition to my library. I look forward to using it.

Source:
Beeon, Mrs. Isabela. MRS BEETON’S BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT. Originally published in 1859-61 in monthly supplements to S. O. Beeton’s The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. First published by S. O. Beeton in 1861 as one volume entitled THE BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT. Enlargement: London: Chancellor Preess, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987.

Illustrations are scanned from my personal copy.

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Filed under 19th century England, Cooking, Old books, recipes, Victorian era

Directions for the Cook in March by Louise Rule

On Jane Austen’s London blog, Louise Rule considers March weather and a fascinating cook book from 1812. There are a couple of recipes as well if you want to experiment!

via Directions to the Cook for March

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Filed under 19th century England, Cooking, Georgian England, Old books, recipes

John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe and the Roxburghe Club

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John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe by Pompeo Batoni, 1761

Please visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, where my post on John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe and the Roxburghe Club is appearing today. The Duke and his predecessors accumulated one of the great libraries of the Georgian age… You can read about it HERE.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons HERE (public domain).

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A New Treasure

New Treasure 001

 

I do enjoy old books, especially cookbooks, so you can imagine how pleased I was to find The Virginia House-wife by Mary Randolph on a Friends of Library sale shelf, waiting to go home with me.  This little gem includes a facsimile of the first edition of Mary’s cookbook as published in 1824, with supplemental material from the 1825 and 1826 editions.  Historical notes and commentary by Karen Hess, a culinary historian, which is extremely useful.  Being particularly interested in English history, it is fascinating to see recipes typical to 17th and 18th century English cookbooks still in use.  Even more fascinating is seeing these recipes amended and adapted based on other culinary influences (French, African Creole, etc.) and ingredients available in the colonies as well as typically English ingredients.  An interesting note is the number of vegetables for which she has recipes.  Her recipes are organized by food type (i.e. Port, Bee, Vegetables, etc.) so her book is fairly easy to find one’s way around.  One rather confusing matter is the inclusion of grains, fruits, desserts and mixed dishes in with vegetables, but the index at the front is very clear so they are easy enough to find.  At the end is a section entitled “Dishes for Lent,” making it simple for cooks to find inspiration on what to cook during this religious season of year.  This is a delightful little book, and one I will enjoy using as a reference.  I may even attempt one or two of Mary’s recipe’s.

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A wonderful surprise!

Front of dust jacket-Pride and Prejudice 001

My sister has spent the last few weeks packing things to move house. This has been a long and exhausting endeavor for her and,
from time to time, she has sent things my way. Today, I came home to find two small boxes of treasure trove on my doorstep.
A few items were quite thrilling to me. One was my great-grandmother’s text book “The Standard Question Book and Home Study Outlines” which was published in 1920 and signed by her in 1922. I do not know if she acquired this for her own study, or if she was teaching and, sadly, have no one to ask. However, it indicates an interest in study that I share. Maybe my great-grandmother acquired the “Outlines” as a study guide for my grandmother. Another was a text book, “Outlines of European History Part II” which covered from the 17th century to the “War of 1914”, which belonged to my grandmother who was in her junior year. This volume appears to have been published in 1916. I am so excited to see this, as it covers a lot of material in which I am interested from a different perspective than some of the more recently-published histories that I have read. There were some other gems as well. However, the real prize for me was a volume of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen.

As you can see, the dust jacket had a picture of Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier, who starred in the 1940 film version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. This volume was published by Grosset & Dunlap, a publisher who was one of the first (if not the first) to use movie still on dust jackets and as inserts. There is also another illustration inside the volume, which shows Miss Bingley, played by Frieda Inescort, trying to catch the attention of Mr. Darcy (Lawrence Olivier). Although the dust jacket is damaged (the spine, back and back flap are missing), the book itself is in pretty good condition and has my grandmother’s signature on the fly leaf. I know she kept the remaining portion of the dust jacket carefully in the back of the book (I suspect she was a fan of Mr. Olivier-who can blame her?). As best I can tell, this was published sometime in the 1940’s, but there is no date in the book. This book was accompanied by The Pocket Library paperback edition of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE published in 1954, and printed in 1958. This little volume is complete worn out-I have a feeling that this was my grandmother’s “reading copy” while the other was one of her cherished possessions. The best part is that my sister, knowing of my interest in all things Austen, made the effort to pack these up and send them to me. It was so thoughtful of her to think of me-the links between my great-grandmother, my grandmother and sister make these items very special treasures.

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